It’s too terrifying to be true: we now have one of America’s most recent (self-appointed) torture apologist darlings, former Bush administration speechwriter Marc Thiessen, using his new weekly column in the Washington Post to argue that his position represents the “middle ground” on U.S. national security policy.
Then he rebukes Obama for eliminating “effective interrogation techniques” such as the “tummy slap” and a “diet of liquid Ensure,” among others.
The crux of Thiessen’s argument this week is that use of the Army Field Manual, which Obama instituted to serve as a guideline for U.S. interrogation practice, is an extreme policy that dangerously sidelines a “middle ground” on interrogation techniques. This is an absurd framing of a debate that really should have been over when the American public learned with horror years ago of Abu Ghraib and the torture of detainees at countless CIA “black sites.”
The fact of the matter, as Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar explained at the beginning of the month, is that the Army Field Manual itself still allows for the use of abusive interrogation techniques on detainees in U.S. custody—it certainly is not a radical bookend to this mythical “middle ground” written by Thiessen.
To keep things in perspective, let’s keep in mind that the man talking about a “middle ground” is none other than the one who said during an interview with Christiane Amanpour on CNN that torture techniques (such as controlled drowning) are okay because they do not cause “extreme pain,” and who said in the National Review that anyone who opposes such abusive techniques argues from a position of “radical pacifism.”
Sorry, Thiessen, we care about the moral integrity of our country too much to let you characterize your position on national security policy as anything approaching a middle ground. Even if you are saying it in the Washington Post.